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Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:27 am

So I've been hand sharpening now for about 6 months. I thought my edges were getting fairly decent. I can slice magazine paper, printer paper and receipt paper with ease. However I was watching a video on push cutting paper and I'm unable to do this with my knives. I can push cut after drawing the knife a small amount to get it started. I just bought my wife a tojiro dp (which she loves by the way) and this was able to push cut the paper out of the box with ease.
What is this telling me? I like the way the knives cut food but I feel like I'm not getting them all the way to where they could be.
The knives if been practicing on are Mac Pro gyuto, shun classic santoku. I should mention I have a kono hh gyuto and I've only had to touch this one up and it can still push cut paper

My set up is bester 500, 1.2k, rika 5k
I draw a burr on each level (500 only if needed), strop a few times on the current stone then deburr and move onto next stone

Until testing the tojiro I didn't really have any complaints about the edges. Seems like I was getting better each time. Just wondering if I might be missing something

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:05 am

Its likely telling you that you have a burr that isn't fully removed.

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:28 am

+1 to what Adam said.

Likely the edge needs to be cleaned up a little more. You might also try with different parts of the blade as well if you haven't already. That would confirm there is a problem area if some spots will push cut and others won't and just needs a few more swipe. If the entire edge won't then the edge needs more "polish" to remove the burr and refine the edge.

All that being said, if you like how it cuts food then don't drive yourself too crazy over it... hard to say as I'm the same way... lol

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:35 am

Use a magnifier and check the edge. You may see that you have a wire edge or burr. I also use a few swiped on a ceramic rod to beburr, seems to work pretty well. Keep practicing, you'll get there!

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:48 am

Another way I use to feel for small burrs is to drag the edge across a dry paper towel. You can feel a tiny burr grabbing the little fibers.

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:09 am

Also, don't panic. Push cutting paper, a useful test of the edge and your sharpening skill progression; push cutting paper, not a useful kitchen task :)

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:34 am

Very true.

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:45 am

Maybe the more appropriate question to gauge kitchen knife performance is: Does it push cut an onion? :P lol

I am totally with Chrismit29 though... even though it isn't really necessary for a kitchen knife to be able to push cut paper, it sure is nice when it can. ;)

I will also say that while my Yamashins were able to push cut paper once I stropped the varnish off of the edge (the ENTIRE blade had a varnish coating!), I was able to get an even better edge after sharpening and it did make a HUGE difference in cutting. So while it wasn't at all necessary (it worked fine after all) it does make a knife feel better when cutting. The only negative thing is cleaning up all of the paper and the bald spots that magically appear on my arms when I'm done playing around after sharpening. lol :)

Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:20 pm

Here is what works for me. I've fond the key is LIGHT strokes. How light is light? I always heard "using only the weight of the blade" to describe a light stroke. I feel that is too much pressure on some of the larger knives. So find the balance point of the knife and hold the knife on the handle side of the balance point so the blade end is the heaviest by just a little. With that in mind let the blade down on the stone. You can tell how you can effectively use less pressure than the weight of the blade depending on where you hold the knife very lightly with your fingers. Now, with this in mind when you feel like you are done using stones and ready to strop do a final PUSH STROKE on the stone on one side of the edge with as little amount of pressure that is possible. I emphasize push strokes because in my mind (even if it isn't true) using a push stroke will eliminate the possibility of straightening a burr. Straightening a burr is bad because the steel (burr) that has been folded out straight is weaker steel and will break off quicker during use. When a knife feels sharp because the burr has been straighteneed and the straightened burr breaks off during use it can leave the impression that that steel has poor edge retention. The extremely light push stroke should remove any really tiny burr on that side of the edge even when you can't detect it easily. The burr should be removed, ground off, abraded off or any way you want to say it. Not straightened IMO. Also, the extremely light stroke should be light enough to NOT form a burr on the other side of the edge. Then do the same final stroke on the other side of the edge. I feel by doing these last two single strokes I will remove any microscopic burr that is there even when I can't see it or feel it. THEN try to push cut some paper. I like phone book paper because it's so flimsy (and someone drops off about 5 of them at my house every year :)). If the edge won't push cut paper now it may just need a couple strokes on a strop. Again, the amount of pressure should be controlled the same way as on the stones.

The difference in the edge as I progress through grits is evident when push cutting, or I like to call it "drop cutting" from one strop to another. "Drop cutting" is what I call it when I don't use any downward force. The edge just drops (cuts) into the edge of the paper. But under normal use I can't tell any difference between an edge finished with a 1 micron strop or a .1 micron strop. They are all just sharp. :)

This works for me but others may have different techniques to get a light stroke or a sharp edge. I am NOT the most experienced and have only been push cutting paper for about 8-10 months or so. I've gotten some real good advice from Ken Schwartz as well as other info on this forum. I've gotten some really good quality sharpening stones/strops also. And I've practiced a lot. I bet you are moments away from all of a sudden the edge just "falls" into the paper without any slicing motion. Improvement seems to happen to me in BANGS. Constant practice for a long time with no significant improvement and then BANG, my edges are suddenly MUCH sharper than they were yesterday.

I don't know if this helps at all.


Re: Push cutting paper

Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:38 pm

Thanks for all the insight guys. It makes me feel better that it doesn't sound like I'm doing anything too far off base. As far as deburring goes I currently use a felt cube and cork. I feel like I'm getting it all bit any suggestions on other methods for deburring?
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